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Big Snows Intermountain West (2013 is 7th warmest year, worldwide, to date)

15 Nov 2013, 7:06 am

A Siberian Clue?

If we’re knee-deep in snow come January – blame (or thank) Siberia. Everyone is looking for clues, short-cuts to the proverbial question: “What will our winter be like? Snowier? Colder? Go ahead, throw a few darts, Paul. Good luck!”

Bloomberg just ran a story about Judah Cohen, a forecaster at Atmosphere and Environmental Research in Massachusetts. He says a good predictor of U.S. winter snowfall is autumn snows over Asia and Siberia. More snow than average can nudge the atmosphere into a colder, stormier, negative phase of the AO, the Arctic Oscillation.

Looking at the data, some of our snowiest winters correlate with unusually snowy autumns in Novosibirsk, Siberia. Go figure. For the record: September saw 911,000 square miles of snow cover across northern Europe & Asia; 57 percent more than usual. The system is not foolproof, but snow lovers should take heart.

* image above courtesy of NASA



Southern Moisture. NOAA’s NAM model shows heavy snow for the Rockies and Pacific Northwest; this surge of Pacific energy spinning up rain late Friday and Saturday across the Plains and Midwest. Animation courtesy of Ham Weather.


Modified Zonal Flow. As long as steering winds aloft are howling from west to east it will be difficult to get (sustained ) cold waves into the USA; NOAA guidance from November 20-24 shows the coldest air of November remaining over Alaska and far northern Canada. For now.


Red States And Blue States. The forecast for the days leading up to Thanksgiving suggest a cold bias for much of the eastern USA; warmer than average readings west of the Rockies. Temperatures over the central U.S. are forecast to run close to average. Map: NOAA CPC and Ham Weather.


7th Warmest Year On Record, To Date. Today’s edition of Climate Matters looks at new data released from the WMO, The World Meteorological Agency, showing a continuation of unusually warm temperatures, worldwide, for the first 9 months of 2013. That doesn’t mean winter has been postponed – as a few climate scientists told me recently, “if it ever gets to the point where it doesn’t snow – ever – we’ll have much bigger problems to deal with.”


2013 “One Of Warmest” On Record. The BBC has an update; here’s an excerpt: “…Of the broad pattern, he said: “All of the warmest years have been since 1998, and this year once again continues the underlying, long-term trend. The coldest years now are warmer than the hottest years before 1998. “Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases reached new highs in 2012, and we expect them to reach unprecedented levels yet again in 2013. This means that we are committed to a warmer future. “Surface temperatures are only part of the wider picture of our changing climate. The impact on our water cycle is already becoming apparent – as manifested by droughts, floods and extreme precipitation…”

Graphic credit above: Climate Central, NOAA NCDC.


Scientists Nearing Forecasts Of Long-Lived Wildfires. UCAR has the story – here’s the introduction: “BOULDER—Scientists have developed a new computer modeling technique that offers the promise, for the first time, of producing continually updated daylong predictions of wildfire growth throughout the lifetime of long-lived blazes. The technique, devised by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University of Maryland, combines cutting-edge simulations portraying the interaction of weather and fire behavior with newly available satellite observations of active wildfires. Updated with new observations every 12 hours, the computer model predicts critical details such as the extent of the blaze and changes in its behavior…”

Photo credit above: “On June 6, 2010, lightning ignited the Medano Fire in Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. By the time this image was taken on June 23, more than 5,000 acres had burned.” ©UCAR. Photo by David Hosansky.

Yesterday: National Hole Punch Day! For an explanation on how these form click here.




The Sochi Olympics Are A Five-Ring Mess. A last minute scramble to get ready has created an environmental mess, according to this article at Outside Magazine; here’s an excerpt: “In 2010, the people of Russia were asked to design an Olympic mascot, and the people responded—creating 24,000 cartoon bears, tigers, saints, snowflakes, witches, and wolves in just three months, a forest of candidates, a seeming triumph of democracy. The upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics, in the southerly city of Sochi, had until then been Vladimir Putin’s pet project. The new Russia was to be showcased at the president’s favorite Russian ski area and coastal resort, with facilities in the Caucasus Mountains and along the Black Sea built from scratch by his most favored oligarchs…”

Image credit above: “In this photo taken on Monday, Nov. 11, 2013 and provided by, an Olympic torch bearer holds an Olympic torch during the torch relay in Anadyr, a port town and the administrative center of Chukotka, Russia. The relay for the Sochi Winter Games, which began on Oct. 7 2013 in Moscow, will pass through many cities that showcase the historical, cultural and ethnic richness of Russia.” (AP Photo/


Here Are 103 Ways To Cut The Deficit. I found this interesting, an excerpt from a Wonkblog story at The Washington Post: “So you want to reduce America’s budget deficit? Here are your options. 103 of them, to be exact. A few highlights at random. The savings listed are for the ten-year period from 2014 through 2023:

— Reduce Subsidies to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, $19 billion
— Reduce Social Security Benefits for New Beneficiaries by 15 Percent, $188 billion
— Raise tax rates on long-term capital gains and dividends: $53.4 billion
— Impose a Tax on Emissions of Greenhouse Gases, $1.1 trillion
— Increase the Excise Tax on Cigarettes by 50 Cents per Pack, $37 billion…”

* have a little extra time on your hands? The entire 300+ page PDF from the CBO, the Congressional Business Office, is here.


First Impressions: iPad Mini With Retina Display. Gizmag has a thorough review – here’s an excerpt: “When Apple announced that the iPad mini with Retina Display was coming “later in November,” most of us assumed that meant the end of the month. Well, who said Apple couldn’t surprise us anymore? Yesterday the company quietly launched the highly anticipated tablet, and, despite limited supplies, we got our hands on the Retina iPad mini. Read on for our first impressions. If you’ve used the original iPad mini, then you already know the basic design and feel of the iPad mini with Retina Display. And if you’ve used any high-res Apple device, then you know what a Retina Display looks like. Put the two together, and, surprise surprise, that’s pretty much what you’re dealing with here…”


The Robots Are Here. In a world of automation, outsourcing, and increasing use of robots to do repetitive jobs, will there be a place for human employees in 10-20 years? It sounds absurd, but think of how many jobs have been blown up by computers in the last 3 decades. Here’s an excerpt of an excellent article at Politico: “…Nearly 60 years after Asimov anticipated a decidedly dramatic intrusion of machines into our politics, we may not (yet) be offloading our democratic responsibilities to computers, but we are empowering them to reshape our economy and society in ways that could be just as profound. The rise of smart machines—technologies that encompass everything from artificial intelligence to industrial robots to the smartphones in our pockets—is changing how we live, work and play. Less acknowledged, perhaps, is what all this technological change portends: nothing short of a new political order…”



For People Who Just Can’t Get Enough Disney. Yes, now you can live right on the Disneyworld property, with special access to everything (Disney) your heart desires. It won’t come cheap though, as an article at The Daily Mail Online shows; here’s a clip: “For many, a trip to Disney is the holiday of a lifetime, but what if you decided to spend your lifetime at Disney? There is a select group of people for whom this idea is no fantasyland, but a reality. The Walt Disney Company has created a gated community known as Golden Oak – named after the company’s California ranch. It’s the only place in the world where homeowners actually live on Disney park property…”

The Turkeys Are Nervous. Thanks to Greg Kjosy for passing this one along.


Climate Stories…
All of the warmest years have been since 1998, and this year once again continues the underlying, long-term trend. The coldest years now are warmer than the hottest years before 1998.” – Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General, World Meteorological Organization, BBC


Report Warns Of Climate Threat To Minnesota Big Game. Hunters and fishing enthusiasts are already reporting changes, statewide. Here’s an excerpt of a story from AP and The News Tribune: “…The exact reasons aren’t clear. But those factors are all associated with climate change, said Leslie McInenly, big game program leader with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.Moose aren’t the only big game animals in danger in Minnesota. Inkley and McInenly said even highly adaptable species such as white-tailed deer and black bears are at risk. So is the state’s small elk population. They cited threats from diseases, drought and habitat changes that a warmer climate could bring…”


Read more here:


Is Your State Ready For Climate Disasters? Here’s an excerpt of an interesting story at Grist: “Whether it’s wildfires in the West, drought in the Midwest, or sea-level rise on the Eastern seaboard, chances are good your state is in for its own breed of climate-related disasters. Every state is required to file a State Hazard Mitigation Plan with FEMA, which lays out risks for that state and its protocols for handling catastrophe. But as a new analysis [PDF] from Columbia University’s Center for Climate Change Law reveals, many states’ plans do not take climate change into account. Michael Gerrard, the Center’s director, said his team combed through all 50 reports to see how accurately and comprehensively climate change was taken into consideration, if at all, and grouped them into four ranked categories…”


Climate Change Makes Super Typhoons Worse, Says U.N. Meteorological Agency. The simple reason? Higher sea levels, worldwide, which even the most ardent skeptic can’t dismiss. Here’s an excerpt from The Australian Broadcasting Corporation: “The United Nations meteorological agency has found the effects of climate change are making the impact of severe storms like Typhoon Haiyan worse. The World Meteorological Organisation’s Michel Jarraud says Australia’s record-breaking summer helped push average global temperatures higher this year, and rising sea levels worsened the situation in the Philippines. “The impact of this cyclone was definitely significantly more than what it would have been 100 years ago because of the simple mechanical fact that the sea level is higher,” Mr Jarraud said...”


“I Can’t Say Haiyan Was Caused By Climate Change…But…” Here’s an excerpt of a very thoughtful post on the severity of Haiyan and possible attribution to climate change and warming seas: “…I participated in a study for the U.S. Navy by the National Academy of Science. In this report, we warned about vulnerabilities to climate change and potential climate refugees being a source of conflict and instability. We also warned that U.S. military assets would be stretched to the limited by humanitarian and disaster response. The report can be found at . Admiral Locklear, the U.S. Pacific Commander, probably was thinking along such lines when he said, “ the biggest long-term security threat in the Pacific region is climate change.” ( I am not writing this to determine whether your ideology, belief system, or data lines up with Locklear’s statement.  I wrote this because I am heartbroken at the images that I continue to see, and I wanted to offer what I believe is reasonable, fair context, irrespective of your viewpoint. Praying for 2 things as I write this: the victims of the Haiyan and spirited, respectful science discourse…”

Photo credit above: “A typhoon victim carries a bag of relief goods she received as she stands among ruins in Tacloban, Philippines, Nov. 14, 2013. The official death toll for Tacloban rose to 2,000 Thursday, six days after the city was largely destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan.” (Jes Aznar/The New York Times).



New Interactive Tool Helps Track Earth’s Forests. We need those forests to soak up carbon dioxide and generate oxygen – here’s an excerpt of a story at The New York Times: “…By providing a record of changes in forested areas across the globe, the tool can be used to help track threats to biodiversity, the effectiveness of policies that protect forest areas and the release of carbon long tied up in trees and other organic material, among other forest health issues. Trees absorb carbon dioxide for use in photosynthesis, serving as one of the most effective natural tools to remove the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere…”



* the new interactive forest-tracking tool is here. Plug in your zip code and see if nearby forests have expanded or contracted close to home. Courtesy: University of Maryland and Google. Image credit above: “Results from time-series analysis of 654,178 Landsat images in characterizing forest extent and change, 2000–2012. Trees are defined as all vegetation taller than 5m in height and are expressed as a percentage per output grid cell as ‘2000 Percent Tree Cover’. ‘Forest Loss’ is defined as a stand-replacement disturbance, or a change from a forest to non-forest state. ‘Forest Gain’ is defined as the inverse of loss, or a non-forest to forest change entirely within the study period. ‘Forest Loss Year’ is a disaggregation of total ‘Forest Loss’ to annual time scales.”




Why Would Anyone Want To Be The Next Al Gore? The National Journal has the story (and video); here’s the introduction: “When Sheldon Whitehouse makes his 50th climate speech on the Senate floor this week, he’ll likely face a deserted chamber. Climate change is about as dead a political platform as you can find these days, something most politicians will go to great lengths to avoid. But the Rhode Island Democrat is intent on making it his issue, even if it seems like he’s talking to himself week after week. Does it feel lonely, being the only one up there talking about it? “Yeah, absolutely,” Whitehouse said. “What’s frustrating about feeling lonely is that I think this is an issue that we would win, in that the American public would win, if we simply put our minds to it, put our attention to it and took it up…”



One Senator’s War Against Climate Change. Bloomberg has a slightly different perspective on the lonely battle being waged by Sheldon Whitehouse; here’s a clip: “…Still, Whitehouse remains optimistic. “There is a path before us,” he said in a phone interview. “The first part has already been done, and that is the president’s climate action plan for new and existing power plants. When faced with the cost of compliance I think those polluters might well decide that an economywide carbon fee makes more sense. The second is people are starting to fight over this issue in elections in a very big way. I think you’ll see deniers pay a heavier electoral price.” To Whitehouse, this isn’t just an isolated policy issue. It’s a test of American democracy — one that might reverberate long into the future. ’’What if the world takes notice of what is already happening all around them, and takes notice of how we blew it at dealing with carbon pollution, and, as a result, turns away from our great American experiment, because of this conspicuous and consequential failure of American democratic governance and leadership?’’ he asked in a speech in July…”



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Welcome to the WeatherNation blog. Every day I sift through hundreds of stories, maps, graphics and meteorological web sites, trying to capture some of the most interesting weather nuggets, the stories behind the forecast. I’ll link to stories and share some of the web sites I use. I’m still passionate about the weather, have been ever since Tropical Storm Agnes flooded my home in Lancaster, PA in 1972. I’ve started 5 weather-related companies. “EarthWatch” created the world’s first 3-D weather graphics for TV stations – Steven Spielberg used our software in “Jurassic Park” and “Twister”. My last company, “Digital Cyclone”, personalized weather for cell phones. “My-Cast” was launched in 2001 and is still going strong on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I sold DCI to Garmin in 2007 so I could focus on my latest venture: WeatherNation. I also write a daily weather column for The Star Tribune And if you’re on Twitter, you’ll find me @pdouglasweather.

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